Young black man.
22 year old.
He sat alone and ate alone in the mess hall for many days.
I watched him and wondered why?
I knew great pain and understood his face and eyes.
I started to sit with him.
He said nothing for many meals.
Other Soldiers said he was crazy.
One morning at breakfast.
He looks at my eyes direct.
He told me.
“Some of the poor men were still alive at Death valley. They were still breathing.
Pieces of bodies speaking in a foreign language. I held so many of them. All I could do is listen.”
His eyes filled with tears. He asked me.
“Was there any purpose for this war?”
I looks at his sad eyes. I told him.
“You did all you could. Mercy of someone hearing your last words allow the poor men
to move to the next place with the vision a kind heart. Not the bloody shit of war.”
He got very quiet for a time. He whispers.
“All I see is death and blood in my dreams. I can’t see any good in my life now. What can I do?’”
I took him to Virginia beach. Not many people in the late months of winter.
I made him drink many long Island ice teas.
We drank till we could barely see anymore.
We wandered down to the Virginia shoreline.
He watched the Atlantic dance on the shore.
He turns to me. Asked me? “What the fuck are you trying to do to me?
Why don’t you leave me alone?
I passed the whiskey to him.
I told him. “We have been lied to. No-body care if people live or die. We were just mercenaries for money and oil. Let’s scream to the Gods. Lets scream into the wind. Tell the world to f-off. Then maybe we can find the mercy to forgive ourselves.”
He gave me a big smile. Told me. “You are damn crazy.”
He stood up and started to run down the ghostly night beach.
Screaming and crying.
He ran into the sea.
Yelling ‘kill me, end my bloody life.”
I swear I saw someone with him.
I tossed my wallet to the sand.
I went into the cold sea to get him.
He was waiting for me.
I wrapped my arms around him.
He smiles and told me. “I’m Ok.
I know I must forgive myself.
He turns and looks me in the eyes.
He whispers. “Thank you for the mercy of your friendship. No-one came when I was alone and afraid. I prayed for forgiveness. You forced me to face my life.”
He looks at the morning sun rising from the east. Told me. “I’m done with the Army. I won’t touch a gun or hurt another person.”
A month later at the Greyhound bus station he was going home. I went to shake his hand. He grabbed me and gave me a bear hug. Kissed my forehead. He told me.
“Mama will heal me with her love. Baby sister will insure I’m alright. And I remember your face and what you gave me. You gave mercy to a man in need.”
Via John Coyote
Among us, poets are not paid. The poet/editor of this website, being physically disabled, lives at a fraction of her nation’s poverty level. Become a patron of the fine arts at: https://www.gofundme.com/are-you-a-patron-of-the-arts